According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of the country’s biggest rental businesses has finally fessed up to using software to spy on its customers. In a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Aaron’s Inc., which has over 1,800 locations in 48 states, admitted that it “knowingly played a direct and vital role in its franchisees’ installation and use of software” to covertly collect information from its customers. In addition, the company also stored the captured data on its servers and shared collected information with franchisees according to the Journal-Constitution.
Leading up to this revelation, Aaron’s had vehemently denied spying on its customers and was fighting to clear its name of any wrongdoing in at least four class-action lawsuits over the practice. The lawsuits have alleged that the data collected included more than 180,000 pieces of customer information including passwords, medical records, Social Security numbers and personal photographs.
As part of the settlement, the company may only use monitoring technology to provide technical support requested by a customer. Aaron’s has also been ordered to delete or destroy any data it improperly collected and is required to conduct monitoring and oversight of its franchisees each year. Additionally, the company cannot use information it collected for debt, money, or property collection. Although the settlement did not include any monetary damages, the company could face fines up to $16,000 for any future infractions.
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